Friday, February 28, 2014

Beholden - Tentacles on Toned Paper

I sometimes feel like everywhere I turn I am tripping over monsters and monster drawings... and sometime I am actually correct. At some previous date I had a spare moment and began doodling some tentacles and eye and after a just a little bit of drawing stuck the doodle in the back of my sketchbook and forgot all about it. Jump ahead and while flipping through my sketchbook I rediscover my tentacle monsters. Jump ahead even further and I finally had enough time pieced together to have finished it...

Beholden
9 x 12
Pencil on paper
© 2014 Christopher Burdett

Funny thing is, it is back in my sketchbook. I needed to slice off a little down one side and it is in a bag and backboard for transit to a paper cutter and it has not managed to escape my sketchbook again. I am horrible about carrying around huge stacks of drawings with me from projects that I am working on... which become drawings from projects that I have finished... which become drawings from projects that I finished two months ago. Maybe I am trying to raise my own Pokemon... I choose you, Beholden!

Here are some images I managed to take of this drawing taking shape. There is a weird gap in the process which I could have sworn I took images of. One of the great mysteries that will never be solved... where did those images of that one random drawing go??? Anyway... here are some images of this drawing taking shape...

Beholden - process images
© 2014 Christopher Burdett

That is all for another exciting week on the blog, see you back here on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ecology of the Neogi - Process

Way back in September of last year I brought you a piece I did for Dragon Magazine illustrating a boy and his dog... actually, it is a Neogi and his Umber Hulk. Two great things that go better together! RAWR! Today, at long last, I have the process and steps that went into this piece. So that we are all on the same page, here is how the final piece turned out...

Ecology of the Neogi - Dragon Magazine Issue 427
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

As per the original description for this piece I was asked to depict a Neogi riding on the shoulders of a Umber Hulk in the pursuit of an escaped human slave. I thought this would be another great opportunity to include my wife in a piece and went about shooting some reference and working up some thumbnails of the slave, backed into a corner in a cavern, cowering in fear of the two monsters. Seemed straight forward enough...

Ecology of the Neogi - Thumbnails version 1
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

The always clear and objective eyes of the art director jumped in at this point. There has always been some issues with the depictions of slaves and slavery and it is always a fine line to walk. Apparently I strayed from that line without realizing it. There was a lot of concern that the intent of the monsters could be misinterpreted and that the slave has begun to distract from the monsters... which after all, are the focus of this piece. I was asked to revise the thumbnails and to minimize or even remove the slave from the composition. Which is what I did...

Ecology of the Neogi - Thumbnails version 2
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

Option "B" was starting to move in the right direction finally. When in doubt, remove all those pesky humans! They only get in the way of the more important monsters. There was still some confusion about the Umber Hulk's right arm being up behind the figures. It was not longer clear that they were climbing through the caverns so I was asked to lower the arm. Which is what I did...

Ecology of the Neogi - Thumbnails version 3
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

Third times the charm! I now had an approved thumbnail and I could get started on the final drawing. With so many edits, variations, and revisions with the thumbnails it resulted in a very loose and sketch final thumbnail to work with. This can sometimes be very good or very bad. If I am not careful a really loose thumbnail can allow me to introduce unintended errors into the drawing. In these situations I need to be sure to spend the time needed on the drawing to work everything out and make sure all my ducks are in a row and all the elements get the attention they need. Here is how the final drawing turned out...

Ecology of the Neogi - Drawing
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

I spent the time needed and I had an approved drawing. Time to get started on final! In just 12 easy steps you too can have a painting of a Neogi riding an Umber Hulk... or not...

Ecology of the Neogi - Process steps
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

The meat of the painting takes place in the middle set of images. The first four cover the drawing prep and value control and the final four are all the little tweaks and edits and adjustments to make the image look and read well. The biggest issue with this piece was to create a dramatic lighting for the monsters and still hopefully have it believable in a very unbelievable situation. Where is all that pale light coming from inside a deep dark cavern? That is a LOT of glowing mushrooms to produce that much light! ...or could it be... MAGIC?!?! Either way, these monsters really needed some underneath dramatic up lighting to make them appear nice and scary. RAWR! Hopefully it works, reads, and looks good.

As always, this piece turned out as well as it did because of the ever present and helpful art directors at WotC, thanks Kate! Again, here is how the final piece turned out...

Ecology of the Neogi - Dragon Magazine Issue 427
© 2013 Wizards of the Coast

That is all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday!  Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Monday, February 24, 2014

Star Wars toned paper adventures - Sympathetic Smuggler

Fresh off the drawing board is my latest toned paper Star Wars drawing. This the is based off one of the first pieces that I did for the SW Card Game, Hidden Cache. It has only recently been released in the game, so I have had to wait to work on this drawing. Without any more yammering, here is how the drawing turned out...

Sympathetic Smuggler
14 x 11
colored pencil on toned paper
Original "Hidden Cache" © 2014 Fantasy Flight Games

I have been working on this whenever I have been able to find the time so it has taken a little longer then I have liked... BUT, it is done now, so that is all that counts. It is all matted and framed up and ready for convention season. As an added bonus, here are some process images of the drawing taking shape...

All images © 2014 Christopher Burdett

That is all for another exciting Monday on the blog, see you back here on Wednesday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Friday, February 21, 2014

Rodians... the revenge of 2005

I recently shared with you a Star Wars piece for an upcoming card set. The piece focuses on the bounty hunter droid, IG-88, but the piece also features a member of the alien species known as the Rodian. I have had Rodians on my mind a lot for the past year...

The Droid's Task
© 2014 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

When I originally created this image last year I was reminded by a piece that haunts my past... a piece that I have hidden away for over nine years. A piece that for some reason I am sharing with you today. Back in 2005 Wizards of the Coast still held the license for Star Wars games. At the time I was still on the outside and I was desperate to get my foot in the door at WotC for both D&D and Star Wars. To that end I was producing spec pieces that showed my "understanding" and "competency" with the product. Unfortunately, I created and submitted this...
Mos Eisley Cantina
Mos Eisley CantinaMos
Mos Eisley Cantina

Rodian
(or "PLEASE PLEASE GIVE ME STAR WARS WORK!!!!")
Spec piece sent to Wizards of the Coast from very early 2005

To be honest, this may have been started in late 2004 and was finished in early 2005, but that does not change the fact that this piece... this piece... has issues. Live and learn, growth and progress and all that. I DID use reference thank you very much! Had a coworker at the time pose on the floor holding a light bulb to simulate the blaster firing. I look at this piece and quickly see all the the young painter/digital painter mistakes. ...but you know what? I was a VERY inexperienced painter when I created this and was desperate to learn and improve. More then anything I look back at this piece and laugh at how silly it is and how much it reminds me of the time I created it. EVERY Rodian needs to make sure his socks match his shirt. Also, make sure you foreshorten arms so that they look SUPER stumpy. No point in flogging a dead horse... or a sad Rodian.

I did say I have had Rodians on my mind a lot. Here is a warm up sketch / study using some unused reference that I did a couple weeks ago. This was done super quick, in less then an hour or so. While it is not perfect, it still managed to be a better Rodian then something I labored over for hours and hours nine years ago...

Rodian Enforcer study/warm up
9 x 12
Pencil on paper
© 2014 Christopher Burdett

Don't worry, there will be more Rodians along in the fullness of time, and they will be way better then all of these combined! RAWR!

That is all for another exciting week on the blog, see you back here on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Salacious B. Crumb - Star Wars: Darkness and Light

Over on the Fantasy Flight Games website earlier this week they previewed the newest expansion to the Star Wars Card Game, Darkness and Light. In that preview they showed off a card that I have in this expansion! Last year I got to illustrate everybody's favorite Kowakian monkey-lizard, I present you with Salacious B. Crumb...

Salacious B. Crumb
© 2014 Lucasfilm, Ltd. TM Lucasfilm, Ltd. Under license to Fantasy Flight Games

Card preview graphic (courtesy the FFG website)
Bottom right card... if you missed it

I have been really looking forward to sharing this piece. I hope it is well received and not one of those pieces that I think will be well received and just falls flat. It was tremendously fun to work on and it gave me the perfect excuse to paint Jabba too. When this expansion is officially released I will share the process step and some back story related to its creation. More on all this in the fullness of time...
That is all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Monday, February 17, 2014

BLOG-a-versary!

Six years ago today this blog started and 819 post later it is still going. Somehow. For some reason. The blog continues on. Through highs and lows, the ups and downs, the blog endures! A hearty THANKS to EVERYONE who comes to the blog, comments on the posts, and in general lurks around this thing that I am creating. I couldn't keep doing it without you all.

Not much else to offer today except my thanks to those that come to the blog. The only visual for the day in my new pencil nub jar that, like the blog, continues on and on. You might remember my last jar from a couple years back. This is the one started after that one. Not sure what this has to do with a BLOG-a-versary, except that it too marks the passage of time, and hopefully growth...


The jar of nubs continues... 
It might not look like much now, but there are a bunch in there.
It is a bigger jar from last time too.

Again, many many thanks to everyone that frequents the blog and I hope the tales of my successes and failures help you all in your own journeys as artists or at least offer some amusing entertainment!

That is all for another exciting Monday on the blog, see you back here on Wednesday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Art Order - Ghost From My Past - A Jeff Easley Homage

A really awesome call for art by Jon Schindehette just concluded. Jon, through Art Order and Infected by Art asked that artist inspired by the amazing art of Jeff Easley please express that inspiration in the form of a piece of new art. You can get all the details HERE. Jeff's work VERY MUCH inspired me as a gamer and an artists and I had to take part in this call for art. Here is my submission...

  Monstrous Encounter
9 x 12
Pencil on paper
© 2014 Christopher Burdett

The cover art for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual 2 had a profound effect on me. It in many ways is the piece that changed how I look at monsters and art. This giant is not just some simpleton, empty headed animal, or just a wandering brute that simply acts on its id and destroys and eats. This giant comes from an organized society of giant folk that have craftsmen, armor-smiths, weapon-smiths, tailors, and everything else you need to be a fully developed well rounded unique species. This giant is a clear and definite threat that is not to be easily fooled and in most cases will be a victor in one on one combat. THIS is a monster. THIS is a monster that could be the hero of its own story. THIS monster is WAY more interesting to me then some traditional human, dwarf, or elf hero character.

Also, this is a piece of art that absolutely blew my mind as a kid. I just could not understand how someone could have possibly created this. So much detail and thought seemed to go into every aspect of the painting. I could not draw anything like this, let alone paint it... whatever or however painting done. It was like I was looking at some alien language that I could understand but could not speak or write. I wanted to know that language. I can look at this painting all day, it still holds all the power and excitement that it did the first time I laid eyes on it...

The AD&D Monster Manual 2... where monstrous imaginings begin... RAWR!

I got a little caught up in drawing this piece and forgot to take a lot of process photos, but I do have a few to share...

  Monstrous Encounter - process images
© 2014 Christopher Burdett

You can see the rest of the submissions to this event over on Infected by Art. I would have liked to have done a dozen more of these, maybe in the fullness of time there will be a moment of two more to devote to a piece inspired by the like long body of work produced by Jeff Easley. Thanks, Jeff, for all the magic you created for all of us!

That is all for another exciting week on the blog, see you back here on Monday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Yozo's Inspiration - L5R Process

Last November I shared with my L5R Promo Card, Yozo's Inspiration. Just your everyday ordinary comet dragon... Today I have for you the steps and process that went into this golden dragon of inspiration and cometity goodness. Just so that everyone is on the same page, here is how the final Yozo turned out...

Yozo's Inspiration
© 2013 Alderac Entertainment Group

Thumbnails come first (as ALWAYS). The one real direction with this piece, besides to make sure it looked like the established Yozo design, was to make it feel like the dragon is transforming from a comet or is in someway a comet. I didn't really have any idea just how I was going to pull that off going into this assignment, but I figured I would work it all out by the end. For the thumbnails I was aiming for a coiling streaming form for the dragon as it trailed off behind the focal point of the head. Here are how the two thumbnails for this piece turned out...

Yozo's Inspiration - Thumbnails
© 2013 Alderac Entertainment Group

Looking back at this now, "B" is just a confusing mess. I put both forelimbs behind the first bend in the body and that just makes the whole thing look and feel weird. This may have played a big role in why option "A" was picked... or the fact that option "A" is just a whole lot better over all and helps tell the story of the character.  Now that the a thumbnail has been selected, time for the drawing...

Yozo's Inspiration - Drawing
© 2013 Alderac Entertainment Group

Coiling snaky eastern dragon? Yeah, I will draw that stuff ALL day long. So many scales though! The drawing came together without issue and was approved. Time for painting!

Yozo's Inspiration - Process Steps
© 2013 Alderac Entertainment Group

As I was working up the value under painting in the third step above I began messing around with the idea of streaking color and light straight back from the dragon. Anywhere that there would be shadow there instead would be the tail of a comet, or the appearance of a comet. The day is saved and a design choice was made to give the client the intended look for this dragon. It will still be recognizable as Yozo and a dragon but have the feel of a comet. I don't like to leave such large important aspects of a painting to "happy accidents", but sometime I get the best results from doing just that. Please keep in mind, these types of "happy accidents" come after years and years of working EVERYTHING out before hand and really putting the time and energy into a piece to make sure it is all worked out and planned for. That time has given me a tool box of solutions and design choices to work from and play with in these less structured moments. I do not advise going into your first assignments with a client on a wing and a prayer without a plan of action or intended outcome. Save that stuff for assignment #30.

Again, here is how the final Yozo turned out and how it ended up looking on the final promotional card...

Yozo's Inspiration
© 2013 Alderac Entertainment Group

Yozo in handy dandy card form!

That is all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path #75: Demon's Heresy

It has come to my attention that Pathfinder Adventure Path #75: Demon's Heresy has been released... last year. So I am a little behind in sharing these with you it look like. When it comes to monsters... better late then never, right? Anyway, I produced four demony monstery type critters for the book. I hope their names have not changed during production since I have not seen the final product yet. Without further yammering on my part, here are some new monsters...

Skulgrim
© 2013 Paizo Publishing

Vorimeraak
© 2013 Paizo Publishing

Neh-Thalggu
© 2013 Paizo Publishing

Svennarobeth
© 2013 Paizo Publishing

I understand that the Skulgrim made it onto the back cover... which of course is really cool! As a side note, I have not worked on the Pathfinder Adventure Paths in a while... actually, it has been a long time. I last worked on the Adventure Paths on issue #29 (PART 1 / PART 2)! How time flies, glad my skill set has improved since then. Not sure what else to add about these, they were super fun to work on and I they really added to my "year of wings" that was my 2013.

I would like to extend a huge thanks to Andrew Vallas for including me on this project! He and I just don't get enough chances to work together, but when we do it is a great experience! Thanks, Andrew!

That is all for another exciting Monday on the blog, see you back here on Wednesday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com